SC immigration dispute could soon be over

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - South Carolina prosecutors have filed papers in which they acknowledge their defense of several provisions in the state's immigration law likely will not succeed.

A civil rights coalition that challenged South Carolina's anti-immigrant law, Act 69 (also known as SB 20) announced they had reached an agreement with the state that would block key provisions and provides strict limits on the "racial profiling" parts of the law.

A key component of the settlement agreement creates strict guidance for the provision mandating that police demand "papers" of people who appear to be foreign.

The proposed settlement includes a formal opinion from the state's Attorney General clarifying that state law does not authorize law enforcement to detain a person for any period of time to determine immigration status.

In papers filed Monday, the plaintiffs agree to drop their remaining challenges but it's up to a federal judge to approve the agreement.

"The state has finally agreed to put to rest the most divisive provisions of South Carolina's anti-immigrant law, which would have given local officials carte blanche to criminalize the lives of immigrants and those who interact with them," said Andre Segura, attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants' Rights Project. "

The South Carolina law was modeled after similar Arizona legislation. The federal government and civil liberties groups quickly sued, saying portions including a provision allowing police to check people's immigration status were unconstitutional.

A federal judge blocked some provisions but revised that ruling after the U.S. Supreme Court nixed much of Arizona's law.

In July, an appeals court ruled some of South Carolina's law inappropriately criminalized activity that should be up to the federal government to regulate.

"Today's settlement makes clear that South Carolinians, regardless of where they were born, can live free from fear that they will be detained by police simply to determine whether they are in this country without authorization. Other states can - and should - make such clarifications in their own laws," said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney of the National Immigration Law Center.